Director Lars Von Trier Apologizes for 'Nazi' Joke
'I understand Hitler,' he said, deadpan, at news conference
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2011 10:25 AM CDT
Updated May 18, 2011 12:52 PM CDT
Director Lars Von Trier attends a press conference for Melancholia, at the 64th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Wednesday, May 18, 2011.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

(Newser) – The always controversial Danish director Lars von Trier really pulled out all the stops at his Cannes press conference today, calling himself a Nazi and claiming to sympathize with Adolf Hitler. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the whole thing appeared to be a joke, albeit an uncomfortable one, as the audience as well as the stars of his latest film Melancholia stared at him in horror. The director "sincerely" apologized afterward, adding, "I am not anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way, nor am I a Nazi." Cannes officials said von Trier explained that he "allowed himself to be egged on by a provocation" at the news conference, adding, "He presents his apology." And thus, "end of silly controversy," adds Michael Glitz at Huffington Post.

It all started when von Trier was asked about his Germanic roots, and concluded with him speculating that his next film could be The Final Solution. “For a long time I thought I was a Jew and I was happy to be a Jew,” he said in response to the initial question. “But then I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler … I sympathize with him a bit.” He added that he’s not “against Jews” and is in fact “very much in favor of them. All Jews. Well, Israel is a pain in the ass but…” He must have realized he was digging himself into a hole, wondering at one point, “Now how can I get out of this sentence? OK. I’m a Nazi.”